New Research: For More Frequent Sex, Do This One Thing for Your Partner

Updated: May 08, 2024

If you've heard it around the house, now science is backing it up—oh, the power of some legitimate downtime.

It’s LOL-worthy, but also apparently fact: If you’ve ever related to the social media influencers who say their partners’ willingness to pitch in on housework is the hottest form of foreplay, University of Texas psychology researchers have identified a strong link between sharing the routine of everyday tasks and enjoying a satisfying sex life.

Job loss, sickness, a death in the family, a child who’s struggling: These might seem like factors that can place massive burden on a relationship, but new research suggests “the small stuff” is an even bigger strain. A University of Texas at Austin study has found that daily stressors are one of the most pervasive factors that are getting in the way of having a consistently satisfying romantic life.

That may not be a news flash, but it’s fresh fodder to drive home a point. The study, published in the journal Personality and Psychology Bulletin on March 25, 2024 and conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, sought to analyze how stress affected couples’ intimacy, both sexually and in other physically expressive ways.

happy young couple kissing in the kitchen smeared with flourTatsiana Hancharova/Getty Images

To do this they recruited 144 recently married, heterosexual, cis-gender couples with no children. Approximately 18 months and 30 months after getting married, the participants were asked to asked to complete a two-week-long daily survey to answer questions about their stress levels and instances of intimacy.

What the researchers found about stress and intimacy, in general, was not a surprise. “Same-day hassles appeared to be a more potent predictor of couples’ day-to-day sexual behaviors than the experience of ongoing stressors,” they noted. Increased stress meant less sex and fewer moments of physical affection for couples—however, the level of stress that led to intimacy issues was much lower than they expected, peaking at low to moderate levels.

In other words, catastrophic events didn’t lessen intimacy and sexual activity the way those everyday “hassles” did.

The researchers explain this by saying, “When recuperating from a stressful day, individuals are more likely to spend this critical time emotionally and physically withdrawing from their partner, which can hamper positive exchanges within the relationship.” Women appeared to be more likely to forgo connection due to these pressures.

The research team says this echoes research from earlier in this century that also found “women are less likely to engage in sexual activity on days in which they experience more stress” and “that women may act as a ‘gatekeeper’ for the occurrence of sexual activity within the relationship,” suggested researchers. 

If it sounds like a tale as old as time, it’s also a trend that’s arguably gotten tired—and perhaps a good reminder for both parties in a couple to jump in and share the load so that there’s more mutual relaxation time…but also to remember that in today’s fast-moving world, it’s important to pause and remember that supportive together time is one of the most proven ways to ensure long, healthy years. Life doesn’t begin only after the laundry’s folded.